The night of Friday, September 27th, J wasn’t home. The girls and I curled up in my bed and watched a horror movie. And then we had ten minutes, when we felt like we were in a horror movie. For the record, I was asleep by midnight and figured I’d get up “early” on Saturday and get a jump on the day. This wasn’t exactly what happened, the best laid plans and all that.
At 12:50, Kelly gave a short yip bark, waking me up. It was followed by a much louder, deeper bark from Lola. I dragged myself from bed. I heard Kelly jump off my mom’s bed and figured my early to bed had probably thrown off their sleeping schedule, because usually, we go out between 1 and 2 am, when I go to bed. I opened the back door and both dogs flew down the deck stairs, which is out of the ordinary, because it was night and Lola isn’t big on stairs during the day, she really isn’t keen on them in the dark.
As I stood there, surprised by Lola heading down the stairs, I realized both girls were barking their heads off. And Lola’s bark had a guttural growl to it, which was also a bit unusual. I followed to see if I could get them to stop before they woke everyone in the subdivision up. As I got to the corner fence, I realized there was a man walking down the road with a flashlight and he was moving it back and forth from roadway to ditch. And he’s dressed darkly, that’s not safe.
Now, we live 4 miles from the city limits, but it is definitely rural. The north side of my city, is fairly undeveloped. The landfill is out this way (and within a mile of our house based on how the crow flies), and there’s some busy rural highways and routes, and houses, but that’s it. We have a streetlight on the main roadway, but only one or two, and they are in front of people’s houses.
My first thought when my sleep addled brain processed that there was a guy searching the ditch on the rural highway that runs by my house was “One of my neighbors is going to wake up to a dead or severely injured dog.” Then a second realization comes to me. This guy with the flashlight is being followed very closely by an SUV. That’s also bizarre. Then the guy stepped under the streetlight closest to my house (200 yards or so from where I was standing in my backyard near the large pine tree). He is in dark clothes, a tan shirt, dark black or brown pants. That’s a sheriff’s deputy and the SUV has a light bar on top that isn’t being used. What is he doing? Oh, there’s another one sheriff’s SUV further down. Oh man, this is probably bad.
“Ma’am?” Holy shit. That scared the crap out of me. I waved to him, because at 1 am, with thunder and lightning, your reactions to a sheriff walking down the road are not well thought out.
“Ma’am?” He said again, coming into my yard. Cue crazy dogs and even more insane barking.
“Yes, sir, is everything okay?” I said as I patted Lola.
“Well, I was going to check your yard, but I’m not sure I need to.” He said, getting about three feet from the fence.
“They are friendly, I swear. And if you let them smell you, they’ll calm down. They just don’t handle things that are out of the norm very well and this is very out of the norm.” The sheriff’s deputy stepped a little closer and stuck his hand out. Both girls sniffed him and calmed down. Thank god.
“If you look down past our SUV, you’ll see the tail end of a car, sticking out of the ditch. Have you seen anyone else out tonight?” The deputy asked.
“No, but we just got out here.” I replied.
“We got a call that there was a car off the road and someone just sitting in it, but when we pulled up, the driver was gone and there is a small amount of blood in the front of the car. So we need to find the driver, they are probably injured.”
“I was asleep when the dogs barked and wanted out. I didn’t hear anything, and if someone that didn’t belong had run into the neighborhood, the dogs would have barked.” I said.
“I noticed you have lights in your backyard, which is why I was going to search it.”
“Oh, if someone had entered the backyard, the neighborhood would be awake.”
“They seem like good alert dogs.”
“They are. I’ve never had to find out if they also work as attack dogs, but they sound scary. Now, my husband’s car is in the driveway and the doors don’t lock. The front driver’s door handle is broken, but the others aren’t. You can check it, although it seems unlikely someone would get in it without the dogs letting us know. They wouldn’t even let you walk down the road without waking me.” I said. During this conversation, I notice that there are flashlights moving around in the hay field across the road from me. As the deputy and I talked, it started to pour. It didn’t drop a few drops and then start to rain, the skies opened up and down came big fat rain drops in a deluge.
Now, in the two years we’ve lived here, I’ve seen deer, coyotes, big ol’ barn owls, vultures, the neighborhood dogs, neighborhood cats, groundhogs, raccoons, possums, and any number of other critters cross the main road. The speed limit is 55 miles per hour and it’s not adhered to well.
My guess, some animal ran out across the road (it looked like the car was headed west on the main road and ended up in the driveways and ditches on the eastbound side of the road). The driver had been drinking, it is a “back road” afterall, and when they crashed their car, they fled into the neighborhood to hide from the DUI they were likely to get. Hell, they might even live in the neighborhood.
It is a bit unnerving though to know there is someone injured running around the neighborhood and the sheriff’s department is looking for them and stumble across you instead. I was a little creeped out, when I went back inside, and double checked all the doors were locked. Then the thunder got really bad and Lola needed meds about 2:30 to deal with it. After that, she curled up with me in bed, forcing me onto J’s side, while she got cuddles. It was after 3 am, before I got back to sleep and when I did finally start falling asleep, I had a thought for an Aislinn Cain short story based on the incident, so the next reality book has been started.